Christian Warlich was born in 1890 and he was considered the “King of the tattoo artists”. During his lifetime, Warlich was held to be the greatest tattoo artist in Germany and gained an international reputation. He had taught the craft to the Hamburg tattoo legend Herbert Hoffmann and later made him his “Crown Prince”.

Warlich is believed to have come into this profession by chance. After an apprenticeship as a boilermaker he had gone to sea and became acquainted with tattoo artists in the United States. From there, he brought back one of the first electric tattoo machines.

In 1919, Warlich opened a restaurant in today’s Clemens-Schultz-Straße in St. Pauli, Hamburg. His tattoo studio was located at the back-door, where one of the corners served as a “Modern Tattoo Studio“.

Christian Warlich, Watercolour by Pepe
Christian Warlich, Watercolour by Pepe

Warlich took on tattooing as a serious business: he promoted the store, traded with tattoo machines and tools and in addition to his tattooing, he offered a residue-free and painless removal of tattoos by using a special tincture. He was not only noticed because of his business sense, his work was characterized by craftsmanship and artistic standards, too. Unlike other tattoo artists of his time, he strove for a continuous improvement of the shapes and for the modernization of the image repertoire.

For these purposes, he developed new designs and collected all kinds of templates, for instance from Chinese sample books, movie posters or advertising images. In addition, Warlich kept in contact with tattooists all over Europe, North America and Asia. They exchanged sketches photographs and celluloid stencils with which the outlines of the motifs were transferred to the skin of the customers.

Christian Warlich
Christian Warlich

In the WWII tattoos were hardly unheard of or unseen. During the Third Reich, tattooing was banned in Germany and Warlich one was the only tattoo parlor allowed to work in those days.
He tattooed many SS officers but their political tattoos magically disappeared right after the war ended, thanks to the Christian Warlich tattoo removal technique. In his forty years as a tattoo artist Warlich had more than 50.000 customers, including the Prince Axel of Denmark and Viggo Rosenborg from the Danish royal family.
He died while working in his tattoo studio in 1964.